Lingered

The scent of her lingered. The night was cold and a violent wind tore at his heavy coat, the black wool not entirely shielding him from the wicked daggers of bitter air. He shuffled and stamped his feet, trying to shake some semblance of warmth back to his body. He had been waiting a long time, and his numb fingers could barely pull the pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. He fumbled the lighter once, dropped it, caught it before it hit the pool of water standing under him. He had sought refuge under the canopy outside a small bakery, closed at this hour, but the storm was slowly stealing his sanctuary, and his shoes would be soaked before long. It wasn't the first time he had waited. It wasn't the first time she had called, pleading, teasing him to meet her. It wasn't the first time he had told himself "No" but on the phone said "Yes." He suspected it wouldn't be the last. She had a hold over him, had since the first time their eyes met. It was in a warmer place, a wa

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1. Lingered

The scent of her lingered. 

The night was cold and a violent wind tore at his heavy coat, the black wool not entirely shielding him from the wicked daggers of bitter air.  He shuffled and stamped his feet, trying to shake some semblance of warmth back to his body.  He had been waiting a long time, and his numb fingers could barely pull the pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. He fumbled the lighter once, dropped it, caught it before it hit the pool of water standing under him.  He had sought refuge under the canopy outside a small bakery, closed at this hour, but the storm was slowly stealing his sanctuary, and his shoes would be soaked before long. 

It wasn't the first time he had waited.  It wasn't the first time she had called, pleading, teasing him to meet her.  It wasn't the first time he had told himself "No" but on the phone said "Yes."  He suspected it wouldn't be the last.  She had a hold over him, had since the first time their eyes met.  It was in a warmer place, a warmer time.  The memory of wild honeysuckle and the buzz of insects in languid summer heat, the comfortable rub of a clean suit over clean sweat, and the white fabric of her dress.  When she first walked towards him the dress played over her body, the even sway matching in time to the music playing nearby so it seemed she was a part of it, maybe the very source of it, and he was entranced.  She was looking at him, seeing him, and he looked into her. 

A soft tearing and a stream of cold water tore him from the warm memories.  He jumped aside, splashing into the puddles and filling his shoes with water so cold it hurt.  The canopy overhead, too burndered with water, had split.  He sighed, dropped the cigarette into pool and turned to head home. 

She stood in the distance, half lit by a soft street lamp.  She wasn't walking, merely watching.  He recognized her instantly and wondered how long she had been standing, watching.  It wasn't until he could see the light catch her eyes that he realized he had been walking towards her, rain and cold forgotten. 

He couldn't tell what she was wearing.  Not the white slip from their first meeting, their first dance.  He could make out an umbrella, a coat, and a shimmer of color underneath that may have been a pale blue, but the rain was coming down in sheets and he had to squint just to keep his direction. 

The distance closed, time eclipsed, the smell of summer passed through memory with the feel of her arms around him as they twirled through the dance, the endless dance in a warm June evening in a place wolds away, and there she was, standing in front of him.  She was shuffling, too, the heavy white coat over her dress (blue, just as he thought) not enough to keep out the painful cold of this night.  A glance to her eyes, a blue of their own but so much deeper, electric, wistful and willful at same moment, and he kissed her. 

The kiss was shocking, startling.  Fire traced from his lips (her lips, so soft, at first hesitant and then eager) sending fire back through him, burning away the years of pain and heartache that had held him drifting in memory.  He pulled her in tighter, her hair, soft as lace, roped tightly through his fingers and he pressed her more firmly in to him.  She gasped, an intake of air that returned as a soft moan, and he felt her arms wrap tightly around his neck, drawing him in even harder. 

The moment grew, years of yearning and sorrow spreading, reaching, pulling everything into a single instance that went on until everything surrounding them stopped.  The umbrella dropped, forgotten, and they didn't feel the rain. 

He stopped, hands slowly releasing that delicate hair and delicate form.  He stepped back, once again aware of the rain and cold, the pain and heartbreak.  She looked into his eyes, and whether he saw rain or tears on her cheeks he would never know.  She slowly turned, the umbrella torn away by the wind, and walked away. 

He stood until she was gone from sight, shaking from the experience, shaking from the cold, but unable to move. 

Even with the wind and rain, the smell of her lingered.

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